Other Options Aside from an Executive MBA
There are different reasons for seeking an MBA. If it’s to gain a set of skills and your organization doesn’t really care where you get it, then you don’t need an elite university. If you seek an EMBA for the network, then an elite university is preferable, but even if Chicago is your post-MBA market, then a good “regional” EMBA like the University of Illinois in Chicago or Notre Dame would probably give you a fine Chicago network. Ohio State and UNC Chapel Hill are solid to good EMBA programs, but by no means elite and would not really help you with a Chicago network. Given that you are not with a major company, you may not need the brand that comes from an elite program — unless you are thinking long term after you leave your current employer.
As for Harvard’s GMP and PLD, these are condensed or accelerated experiences that don’t cover all the material of an MBA but do give you a lower price tag, a Harvard credential, and a high-quality set of classmates. If you don’t need the full MBA experience (i.e. your learning needs are more limited or you are primarily interested in getting ‘branded’) and you don’t want to commit more than six months or so, then these HBS programs may suit you.
The Right Time to Start an Executive MBA Program
At most EMBA programs, nine years’ work experience is sufficient to qualify for admission. However, managerial responsibility and strong career growth are more important than work experience per se. If you have no direct reports, then you won’t be a competitive applicant at top EMBA programs irrespective of years of experience or high GMAT.
How Adcoms Define “Managerial Experience”
Primarily it means direct reports/subordinates, but secondarily it means responsibility (such as job title, P&L responsibility, who you report to etc.) within the organization. It’s possible for someone to have no formal direct reports yet to play a very visible and senior level in the organization in terms of their responsibility and reporting line. Even these people would be expected to show that they have a good track record in coordinating the work of others (indirect leadership).